UM Today | Students | Spiritual wellness for students
February 16, 2021 –
Spiritual wellbeing is essential to the process of navigating one’s life experiences, especially in the course of post-secondary education and other stages in life that are affected by it. At the University of Manitoba, Spiritual Care helps students develop their own faith framework and discover meaning and purpose in their lives and identities.
“We support individuals whenever they are going through losses, crises and transitions, especially with their ability to make sense and live purposefully,” says Edgar French, the Spiritual Care Coordinator. “Any situation that would make it difficult for you to feel like you was in your life has an element of coherence if your self-image, the world around you, or your sense of belonging and connection is questioned.”
Students can access confidential, individual support through face-to-face appointments with spiritual tutors from a variety of traditions relating not only to religion but also to philosophy and worldview. Appointments are currently offered over the phone or through a secure video chat platform.
Depending on a student’s spiritual identity, there are ways to get involved, whether they identify as spiritual, religious, atheist, or agnostic.
French explains: “We try to educate students that spirituality is an integral part of wellbeing, in which all people are involved, regardless of how they identify themselves. It’s just that we all have a unique shape of what that looks like. ”
French prides itself on the growth of the department and its work of helping students from all backgrounds. Students have the opportunity to connect with a range of chaplains from different traditions, indigenous elders, active faith groups, and other related resources on campus. Nonetheless, those who are less comfortable meeting with a spiritual care provider who represents a particular belief tradition may further discuss other available options. Ultimately, spiritual care offers person-centered care that takes into account the specificity of personal values and traditions.
In addition to providing excellent student support on an individual level, another purpose of the programs offered by Spiritual Care is to create an environment that encompasses the diversity of spiritual identities at the University of Manitoba. “Part of our role is to remind people that we have a beautifully pluralistic and diverse community and that we can honor and treat differences with dignity,” says French.
Spiritual Care offers workshops and programs that address spiritual health and wellness education and relate to intergroup and interreligious dialogue. Her approach to student support obviously focuses on helping each person with personal challenges while equipping them with the skills to openly interact with other people of different beliefs and values. In return, the department can help individuals bridge the gap in potentially divisive atmospheres and ultimately create a more inclusive environment for all members of the UM community.
Students interested in accessing or learning more about the types of support services offered by Spiritual Care are encouraged to contact the department. More information about Spiritual Care, including contact information, is available on their website.